Title:
Deformable Shaft Umbrella
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A folding umbrella having a shorter rigid upper segment and a longer flexible or deformable lower segment, such that with at least an upper portion of the flexible or deformable lower segment manipulated so as to be relatively straight, the hub member of the umbrella is slidable onto the flexible or deformable lower segment. The umbrella further has a mounting mechanism adapted to temporarily secure the umbrella to an object during use, wherein the mounting mechanism may be a clip or a deformable handle member, either as a deformable member connected to the lower end of the shaft or the lowermost portion of the shaft itself.



Inventors:
Busciglio, Valerie (Tampa, FL, US)
Doyle, Philip (Tampa, FL, US)
Application Number:
14/177902
Publication Date:
08/14/2014
Filing Date:
02/11/2014
Assignee:
BUSCIGLIO VALERIE
DOYLE PHILIP
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45B25/02
View Patent Images:
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20070283989Safe umbrella frameDecember, 2007Kuo
20030183261Safe engaging structure for a runner of an umbrellaOctober, 2003Lee
20130048038UMBRELLA APPARATUSFebruary, 2013Herrera
20090242006Walker Having Automatically Activated Protective Dynamic PaddingOctober, 2009Warren
20080202573Rotatable, portable blindAugust, 2008Corbiere
20110041884Crutch ApparatusFebruary, 2011Hanna et al.
20050194027Engaging structure for runner of an umbrellaSeptember, 2005Ko
20120067385Cane and Method of UseMarch, 2012Senatro



Primary Examiner:
YIP, WINNIE S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Crowell/BGL (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A folding umbrella comprising: a canopy mounted onto rib members, said canopy and rib members connected to a shaft; stretcher members connecting said rib members to a sliding hub member mounted onto said shaft, whereby movement of said hub member up said shaft to an open stop position opens said canopy and movement of said hub member down said shaft to a closed stop position closes said canopy; said shaft comprising a rigid upper segment and a flexible lower segment, said flexible lower segment being longer than said rigid upper segment; wherein said open stop position is located on said rigid upper segment of said shaft and said closed stop position is located on said flexible lower segment.

2. The umbrella of claim 1, further comprising a mechanical mounting mechanism connected to said flexible lower segment of said shaft.

3. The umbrella of claim 2, wherein said mechanical mounting mechanism comprises a clip.

4. The umbrella of claim 1, further comprising a deformable handle connected to said flexible lower segment of said shaft.

5. The umbrella of claim 1, wherein said flexible lower segment is characterized such that said flexible lower segment may be repeatedly manipulated into straight or various curved configurations and then back, said flexible lower segment being configuration-retaining such that said flexible lower segment remains in the manipulated configuration after any biasing forces are removed, and further wherein said flexible lower segment is not configuration-retaining when flexed or bent greater than 180 degrees.

6. The umbrella of claim 4, wherein said deformable handle is characterized such that said deformable handle may be repeatedly manipulated into linear or various non-linear configurations and then back, said deformable handle being configuration-retaining such that said deformable handle remains in the flexed or bent configuration after any biasing forces are removed, and further wherein said deformable handle is configuration-retaining when flexed or bent greater than 180 degrees and may be flexed up to and beyond 360 degrees.

7. The umbrella of claim 4, wherein said deformable handle comprises a metal rod or bar.

8. A folding umbrella comprising: a canopy mounted onto rib members, said canopy and rib members connected to a shaft; stretcher members connecting said rib members to a sliding hub member mounted onto said shaft, whereby movement of said hub member up said shaft to an open stop position opens said canopy and movement of said hub member down said shaft to a closed stop position closes said canopy; said shaft comprising a rigid upper segment and a deformable lower segment, said deformable lower segment being longer than said rigid upper segment; wherein said open stop position is located on said rigid upper segment of said shaft and said closed stop position is located on said deformable lower segment.

9. The umbrella of claim 8, wherein a portion of said deformable lower segment comprises a deformable handle.

10. The umbrella of claim 8, wherein said deformable lower segment is characterized such that said deformable lower segment may be repeatedly manipulated into linear or various non-linear configurations and then back, said deformable lower segment being configuration-retaining such that said deformable lower segment remains in the flexed or bent configuration after any biasing forces are removed, and further wherein said deformable lower segment is configuration-retaining when flexed or bent greater than 180 degrees and may be flexed up to and beyond 360 degrees.

11. The umbrella of claim 9, wherein said deformable handle is characterized such that said deformable handle may be repeatedly manipulated into linear or various non-linear configurations and then back, said deformable handle being configuration-retaining such that said deformable handle remains in the flexed or bent configuration after any biasing forces are removed, and further wherein said deformable handle is configuration-retaining when flexed or bent greater than 180 degrees and may be flexed up to and beyond 360 degrees.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates generally to umbrellas, and more particularly relates to folding umbrellas where a portion of the shaft or handle is flexible or deformable.

A typical umbrella comprises a canopy of waterproof fabric or similar material mounted onto a plurality of radially extending rib members. The rib members are connected by stretcher members to a sliding hub member annularly mounted onto a rigid shaft. Movement of the hub member up the shaft raises the stretcher members to spread the rib members outwardly, thereby opening the umbrella for use by stretching the canopy into a domed configuration. A depressible upper latch member disposed in the rigid shaft maintains the hub member in the raised position. After depressing the latch member, the hub member is moved down the rigid shaft, usually onto a depressible lower latch member, to collapse the rib members and canopy into a relatively tight cone-shaped configuration surrounding the shaft. A closure strap, typically utilizing a hook-and-loop-type fastener, is then secured about the collapsed canopy.

It is known to provide umbrellas with rigid shafts having short flexible segments such that the open canopy can be tilted off the axis defined by the rigid shaft. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,810,890 to Lin et al. shows an umbrella having a shaft with a rigid upper segment, a flexible middle segment and a rigid lower segment. The flexible middle segment is spring-biased such that the middle segment may be bent manually, yet automatically returns to the linear configuration when any biasing force is released. As seen in FIG. 6 of that patent, a lower latch member is positioned at the bottom of the rigid upper segment to retain the sliding hub member. The shafts of these umbrellas cannot be altered into multiple configurations since the flexible portions of the shaft are not constructed to be configuration-retaining. It is also known to provide miniature umbrellas wherein the shaft has a short rigid upper segment and a long deformable, configuration-retaining, lower segment, as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,896,880 to Bushweller et al., the umbrella being sized such that the sliding hub member does not travel beyond the short rigid upper segment of the shaft. The canopies of this type of umbrella referenced are limited in size due to the short length of the rigid upper segment. It is also known to provide umbrellas with long rigid upper shaft segments and flexible or deformable short lower segments, which limits the number of possible configurations. It is also known to provide a standard rigid shaft umbrella with an elongated deformable handle, the deformable handle being malleable and configuration-retaining when bent into various shapes, which again presents an umbrella with limited adaptability.

It is an object of this invention to provide a collapsible or folding umbrella that addresses the problems inherent in the known umbrellas and provides an improved structure, the umbrella having a short rigid upper segment and a long flexible or deformable lower segment, wherein the outer diameter of the flexible or deformable lower segment is less than the inner diameter of the sliding hub member, such that with at least an upper portion of the flexible or deformable lower segment manipulated so as to be straight, the hub member is slidable onto the flexible or deformable lower segment, thereby enabling the umbrella canopy to be of any size, such as full sized for example. The long lower segment enables the umbrella shaft to be configured in a large number of configurations depending on the need. It is a further object to provide such an umbrella having a mounting mechanism adapted to temporarily secure the umbrella to an object during use, such as a chair or table for example, wherein the mounting mechanism may comprise a clip or preferably a deformable handle member, either as a separate deformable member connected to the lower end of the flexible or deformable shaft or as the lowermost portion of the shaft itself when the shaft is fully deformable over its full length.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention in its broadest form is a folding umbrella comprising a canopy of waterproof material mounted onto a plurality of radially extending rib members. The rib members are connected by stretcher members to a sliding hub member annularly mounted onto a short rigid upper segment of the umbrella shaft, the hub member having an inner diameter or bore. The shaft further comprises a long (relative to the short rigid upper segment) flexible or deformable lower segment, the outer diameter of the deformable lower segment being less than the inner diameter of the hub member. Movement of the hub member up the shaft spreads the rib members outwardly to stretch open the canopy. Movement of the hub member down the shaft from the short rigid upper segment onto the long deformable lower segment, at least the upper portion of the flexible or deformable lower segment having been manipulated into a straight configuration, collapses the rib members and canopy into a relatively tight configuration surrounding the shaft.

The shaft terminates in a mounting mechanism adapted to temporarily mount or secure the umbrella in the open configuration to a support object, such as a chair or table for example. The mounting mechanism may comprise mechanical fixation members, such as a clip or clamp for example. Preferably the mounting mechanism is an elongated deformable member comprising a separate member connected to the bottom end of a flexible lower segment of the shaft, or comprising the lowermost portion of a deformable lower segment of a deformable lower segment of the shaft itself when the shaft is deformable over its entire length. Presented in alternative format, the invention is a folding umbrella comprising a canopy mounted onto rib members, said canopy and rib members connected to a shaft; stretcher members connecting said rib members to a sliding hub member mounted onto said shaft, whereby movement of said hub member up said shaft to an open stop position opens said canopy and movement of said hub member down said shaft to a closed stop position closes said canopy; said shaft comprising a rigid upper segment and a flexible lower segment, said flexible lower segment being longer than said rigid upper segment; wherein said open stop position is located on said rigid upper segment of said shaft and said closed stop position is located on said flexible lower segment. Further the invention may comprise a mechanical mounting mechanism or a deformable handle connected to said flexible lower segment of said shaft.

Likewise the invention may be presented as a folding umbrella comprising a canopy mounted onto rib members, said canopy and rib members connected to a shaft; stretcher members connecting said rib members to a sliding hub member mounted onto said shaft, whereby movement of said hub member up said shaft to an open stop position opens said canopy and movement of said hub member down said shaft to a closed stop position closes said canopy; said shaft comprising a rigid upper segment and a deformable lower segment, said deformable lower segment being longer than said rigid upper segment; wherein said open stop position is located on said rigid upper segment of said shaft and said closed stop position is located on said deformable lower segment, and further wherein a portion of said deformable lower segment comprises a deformable handle.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 a partially exposed view of an embodiment of the umbrella, the shaft having a flexible lower segment with connected mechanical mounting mechanism, the umbrella being shown in the open configuration.

FIG. 2 is a partial view of an alternative embodiment of the umbrella, showing a deformable handle member connected to the flexible lower segment of the umbrella shaft.

FIG. 3 is a partial view of another alternative embodiment of the umbrella shaft, the shaft having a deformable lower segment, wherein the deformable handle member comprises the lowermost portion of the deformable lower segment of the umbrella shaft.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With reference to the drawings, the embodiments of the invention will now be described in detail. As used herein, the terms “upper”, “higher”, “top” or the like shall refer to the direction toward the distal end of the umbrella, i.e., the uppermost tip of the umbrella shaft when in use, and the terms “lower”, “bottom” or the like shall refer to the opposite direction. The term “flexible” as used herein shall refer to an elongated member having a structure or characteristic whereby the member may be repeatedly manipulated into straight or various curved configurations and then back, the member being configuration-retaining such that the member remains in the manipulated configuration after any biasing forces are removed, and further wherein the member is not configuration-retaining when flexed or bent greater than 180 degrees. The term “deformable” shall refer to an elongated member having a structure or characteristic whereby the member may be repeatedly manipulated into linear or various non-linear configurations and then back, the member being configuration-retaining such that the member remains in the flexed or bent configuration after any biasing forces are removed, and further wherein the member is configuration-retaining when flexed or bent greater than 180 degrees and may be flexed up to and beyond 360 degrees. In other words, a flexible shaft may be manipulated into a curved configuration of less than 180 degrees, but a deformable shaft may be manipulated into a full circle or beyond, and may be manipulated into more complicated shapes with curves in differing directions, such that the deformable shaft is capable of being wrapped around an object.

As shown in FIG. 1, the invention in one embodiment is a collapsible or folding umbrella 10 comprising a dome, web or canopy 11 of waterproof flexible material mounted onto a plurality of radially extending spoke of rib members 12, the canopy 11 and rib members 12 connected to the upper end of a shaft 20. At intermediate locations the rib members 12 are also connected by stretcher members 13 to a sliding collar, runner or hub member 14 having an open interior or bore with an inner diameter, the hub member 14 being annularly mounted onto a short rigid upper segment 21 of the umbrella shaft 20. A ferrule or similar cap member 16 retains the canopy 11 on the upper end of the rigid upper segment 21 of the shaft 20. The shaft 20 further comprises a long (relative to the short rigid upper segment 21) flexible lower segment 22, structured as known in the art so as to possess the necessary bending and configuration-retaining characteristics. Specifically, the rigid upper segment 21 is shorter than the flexible lower segment 22, and the flexible lower segment 22 is preferably approximately twice as long as the rigid upper segment 21. The outer diameter of the deformable lower segment 22 is no greater than the inner diameter of the hub member 14, such that the annular hub member 14 may travel over the flexible lower segment 22 as well as on the rigid upper segment 21.

With the flexible lower segment 22 of the shaft 20 disposed in a linear or only slightly curved configuration, movement of the hub member 14 up the shaft 20 spreads the stretcher members 13 and rib members 12 outwardly to stretch open the canopy 11. A spring-loaded, depressible latch member 15 positioned on the rigid upper segment 21 of the shaft 20 interacts with the hub member 14 to prevent the hub member 14 from downward movement once the hub member 14 has been raised into the open stop position 31 above or over the latch member 15. Depressing the latch member 15 into the shaft 20 releases the hub member 14 for downward movement over the full hub travel range 18 across the shaft junction 19 connecting the rigid upper segment 21 with the flexible lower segment 22 and onto the flexible lower segment 22. As shown by the dashed lines in FIG. 1, movement of the hub member 14 down the shaft 20 from the short rigid upper segment 21 onto the longer deformable lower segment 22 to the closed stop position 32 will collapse or fold the rib members 12 and canopy 11 into a relatively tight configuration surrounding the shaft 20. In known manner, the canopy 11 and rib members 12 may be retained in the closed disposition by a closure strap 17 that may utilize a hook-and-loop-type releasable fastener.

A mechanical mounting mechanism 24 adapted to temporarily mount or secure the umbrella 10 in the open configuration to a support object, such as a chair or table for example, is connected to the bottom end of shaft 20. The mounting mechanism 24 may comprise mechanical fixation members, such as a clip or clamp for example, as shown in FIG. 1. Thus, in this embodiment a large canopy 11 umbrella 10 may be laterally moved or angled relative to the support object by mounting the umbrella 10, opening the canopy 11 by raising the hub member 14 to the open stop position 31 on the rigid upper segment 21, and then manipulating the flexible lower segment 22 into the desired curved configuration. To close the umbrella 10, the flexible lower segment 22 is straightened and the canopy 11 is closed by pulling the hub member 14 across the shaft junction 19 and onto the flexible lower segment 21 to the closed stop position 32.

Preferably the mounting mechanism is an elongated, cylindrical deformable member or handle 24 connected to the bottom end of the flexible lower segment 22 of the shaft 20, as shown in the alternative embodiment of FIG. 2. For example and not meant as limiting, the deformable member 24 may comprise a length of a malleable metal rod or bar, such as soft carbon steel or aluminum, with a cover of a rubber or polymerized material. With this structure the umbrella 10 can be mounted onto a large variety of support members of various shapes, including rods or bars, or can be wrapped around a person's shoulder, arm or hand, since the deformable handle 24 can be manipulated into a large number of odd or asymmetrical shapes and can be wrapped around objects.

In still another alternative embodiment as shown in FIG. 3, the umbrella shaft 20 comprises a deformable lower segment 25 joined to the rigid upper segment 21 at the junction 19. The lowermost portion of the deformable lower segment 25 defines or transitions into a deformable handle 24. This embodiment presents the greatest number of possible configurations for the umbrella 10, since the majority of the shaft 20 is now deformable rather than just flexible, and therefore the umbrella 10 is even more adaptable to being mounted onto unusual support members.

It is contemplated that equivalents and substitutions for certain elements set forth and described above may be obvious to those of ordinary skill in the art, and therefore the true scope and definition of the invention is to be as set forth in the following claims.